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Sega is becoming its weird and wonderful self again

Bullet Club

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Sega is becoming its weird and wonderful self again

Bring on Seaman.



Sega is in an unexpectedly good place right now. The company was never on top of the industry; it's been beaten by Nintendo, by Sony, by the decline of the arcade. It spent years nursing the wounds from its fall from grace in the '90s, and through the '00s and early '10s could seemingly do little right.

Even in its darkest years, though, Sega made some good calls. Intelligent mid-2000s acquisitions like Creative Assembly (Total War) and Sports Interactive (Football Manager) were joined in the '10s by Relic Entertainment (Warhammer 40,000) and Amplitude Studios (Endless Space) to form a strong division in "Sega West." This policy seems to be continuing: Sega recently acquired Two Point, the team behind Two Point Hospital.

Sega has, of course, seen success beyond these acquisitions. Subsidiary Atlus has surged in popularity: its Shin Megami Tensei spin-off series Persona is now arguably Sega's strongest non-hedgehog property. RGG division's Yakuza also goes from strength to strength, with the seventh entry in the series due to be announced next week.

This resurgence, though, has been driven almost entirely by new projects, new divisions and new subsidiaries. Sonic Team, once the crown jewel of Sega, has produced many middling-to-poor Sonic games and not a great deal else. AM2, the company's most-storied division, has moved from defining genres with games like OutRun, Virtua Fighter, Virtua Cop, Sega Rally and Shenmue to mostly pushing out (admittedly excellent) Project Diva rhythm games and Japan-only free-to-play titles. The successes of today are disconnected from those of its past.

Recently, there are clear attempts to change that.



The decision to allow Christian Whitehead, a prominent member of the Sonic community, to create an official game in Sonic Mania proved astute. The title was released in 2017, within a few months of Sonic Team's Forces, and surpassed the in-house game both critically and, according to unofficial figures, commercially. Mania represented an embrace of the old way -- Whitehead's Retro Engine was built to recreate the feel of the original Genesis games.

The success of Sonic Mania clearly woke someone up at Sega. Its current slate contains the expected entrants in ongoing series like Yakuza, Puyo Puyo, Total War, Football Manager and Mario & Sonic at the Olympics. But we've also seen some "old Sega" working its way back into the fold. Take Streets of Rage 4, a faithful continuation of Sega's Genesis series that's being developed and published by a third-party. As with Sonic Mania, this new Streets of Rage game is underpinned by an engine essentially built to evoke the originals.



Sega's history clearly doesn't begin and end with the Genesis. Panzer Dragoon: Remake, a return for a Sega Saturn classic, is being handled by Polish company Forever Entertainment. Even the Dreamcast is getting some love: Space Channel 5 VR: Kinda Funky News Flash! is not only the best-named game of the year, it's a virtual-reality return for a game that represents Sega at the peak of its late-'90s weirdness. (Okay, perhaps Seaman is the peak, but SC5 is not far off.)

Then there's Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD. The original Super Monkey Ball was made for NAOMI, the Dreamcast-derived arcade platform. Due to the death of Sega's console, it ended up as a GameCube launch title, becoming Sega's first ever game on a Nintendo machine. Much like Sonic, though, the series has since meandered. The direct sequel was solid, but Adventure, Banana Blitz, Step & Roll and Banana Splitz -- there have been a lot of Super Monkey Ball games -- not so much.



Banana Blitz HD is an attempt to bring the series back. The remaster is being developed in-house at Sega, and does away with the main issue with the original -- the Wii's motion controls. Along with updated graphics, the HD version has a bunch of modern-day features like online leaderboards and quick restarts for speedrunners, along with a separate multiplayer-focused section for party games.

Perhaps the best example of Sega's renewed interest in its past is the upcoming Genesis Mini. After years of licensing terrible third-party hardware running bad emulators, Sega is producing its own microconsole, and it's doing it properly. The Mini is being brought to life by members of the original hardware team, and the game selection is varied, including many cult titles like Dynamite Headdy alongside the expected big hitters. Sega has called on long-time partner M2 to handle the game ports, and even brought in composer Yuzo Koshiro, who scored Streets of Rage, to create new music for the system's menu.

Taking all of these things as a whole, it's clear something has shifted within Sega. The company spent two decades just surviving. Between reviving its own IPs and recognizing when other companies can do better, it's now seemingly found the formula to exist while rediscovering its roots.

Source: Engadget
 

Fitzchiv

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I would love to see SEGA come back to hardware. But alas, they cannot keep up with the hardware race any more.
See, this is an interesting one isn't it. I actually never owned a Sega console. I've owned pretty much every Nintendo console they've released, and PS1/PS4. Something about Sega games never really hit the spot to me, I think maybe because I never spent much time in arcades as a kid.

BUT..

I would LOVE to see them back in the platform race. I just think there's an authenticity and heritage to them that connects with what gaming should be about (fun) that the industry desperately needs right now. In years gone by I'd agree with you on them being unable to keep up with the hardware race but then I think we're in a transitional phase now...components are converging more and consoles becoming more like mid range gaming PC's and more importantly the direction of travel is away from expensive stand-alone hardware and more toward streamed service.

Given Sony have agreement with MS to use Azure for their streaming platform, is it really beyond Sega to do likewise? Or, could they release a lower-end living room unit with high streaming capability to backfill AAA content?

I don't think they have the will or the appetite but it's a real shame. I think we're coming into a phase over the next 10 years where the lines will be so blurred we'll get all kinds of weird and wacky players taking a punt at the industry.
 
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petran79

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Even after Dreamcast they continued with some unique arcade games, though only in Japan and they still continue to release arcade pc boards.
Sega ALLS being the latest, released in 2018, a high end pc running on Windows 10 iot.

Perhaps strongest arcade board ever released

ALLS UX specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7 7th Gen CPU
RAM: 16 GB
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
Sound: 5.1 channel HD Audio
Output: VGC-P, UTT-P, twin display output
Connectors: JVS I/O connector, 4 channel serial port, 4× USB 3.0, 2× CAN bus
Networking: Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T) X2
Storage: SATA SSD 128 GB, HDD 500 GB
OS: Microsoft Windows 10 IOT
Media: Blu-ray or USB 3.0 storage, network delivery (Sega ALL.NET)
 

DocONally

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Sonic the Hedgehog movie says hi.

This reads more like an advert anyway.

Also, "Christian Whitehead"? Are Ree gonna be OK?
 
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Enjay

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Aside from Sonic Forces, Team Sonic Racing, the Shenmue 3 bullshit, somic the movie, and streets of rage 4, they're doing a little better.
 
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BloodFalcon64

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I would love to see SEGA come back to hardware. But alas, they cannot keep up with the hardware race any more.
Sure they can. If these zombie companies can make new systems somehow then Sega can do their own thing as well without having to worry about the competition.

Just slap a Sega logo on a PC and fans will buy it over those two. Besides with their PC focus nowadays that route only makes sense.
 
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cireza

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Aside from Sonic Forces, Team Sonic Racing, the Shenmue 3 bullshit, somic the movie, and streets of rage 4, they're doing a little better.
Team Sonic Racing is perfectly fine, simply aimed towards younger audience 100% Sonic. The game is fun and well polished.

Sonic Forces is also fine, also aimed towards this younger audience. Even if the game is easy and pretty short, it is still very enjoyable. And it is also a well polished game, that runs perfectly fine. They should not stick to this formula though, we had enough games based on the "boost in corridors" engine, they need to shake things up a bit.

Sega actually released Sonic Mania for the older fanbase.

Sega has nothing to do with Shenmue 3, except lending the license. If Sega was involved it would without a doubt be a much better game.

Streets of Rage 4 looks perfectly fine and the previews are good. Panzer Dragoon does not though.

They should have not authorized the Sonic movie.
 
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Turkey Master Baster

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The CEOs Grandson took it upon himself to win bsck the fans and seems to have done a brilliant effort so far.

SEGA at their very best can match Nintendo in quirky IPs and could sell mich more if they shown off their IPs through better marketing.

Thankfully ATLUS USA has done wonders with SEGA's IP marketing and have gotten rid of the old rot that was SoA, relegating them to a basic Sonic PR machine (which in my opinion shows Sonic in a bad light on Twitter with the whole self mocking due to the mistakes of the brand).

I can only hope that they continue to push their properties and offer up new exciting franchises in the near future as they have always been creative and provided us with new exciting games over Nintendo's tried and tested formula.

I have always thought that SEGA should co-operate with Nintendo on the Sonic IP as Sonic seems to sell better on Nintendo Consoles and I could see Nintendo offering advice on how to keep Sonic from being seen as a joke.
 
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Lugnut

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Growing up in the 16-bit wars on the side of Sega (many an argument was made on the playground with my best friend over which was better SNES or Genesis) all i can say is I'm so glad to see Sega coming back around. I can't wait for Genesis Mini and am hoping that it's success will lead to more classic games being rereleased or even remastered (looking at you Saturn!!!).
 
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Outrunner

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I agree with OP. Sega is definitely set on the right path. I think you also forgot how some of its games got ported to PC like Vanquish, Bayonetta, the Yakuza series. The Valkyrie series is also wonderful and probably one of the best TRPG series out there.

I would love to see SEGA come back to hardware. But alas, they cannot keep up with the hardware race any more.
Well, they could do like Nintendo did and have Nvidia take care of the hardware for them.
 

Quasicat

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I was a Nintendo guy until 93. When I was in the 8th grade, my cousin brought over his Genesis 2 with Sonic 2 bundled in. As soon as I played it, I picked one up as soon as I could. This means I have no nostalgia for the Master System, but I still have all of my SEGA systems from Genesis onward. My cousin passed away a couple of years ago from cancer, but when he was sick, I brought my entire Genesis/SEGA CD/32X collection over (184 titles) and we spent the weekend ordering pizza and playing like we were kids. Whenever a SEGA AGES game comes out on Switch, and it was one we played together on his original system, I think about him and that time we would spend together before life stepped in.
 

v1oz

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Even after Dreamcast they continued with some unique arcade games, though only in Japan and they still continue to release arcade pc boards.
Sega ALLS being the latest, released in 2018, a high end pc running on Windows 10 iot.

Perhaps strongest arcade board ever released

ALLS UX specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7 7th Gen CPU
RAM: 16 GB
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
Sound: 5.1 channel HD Audio
Output: VGC-P, UTT-P, twin display output
Connectors: JVS I/O connector, 4 channel serial port, 4× USB 3.0, 2× CAN bus
Networking: Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T) X2
Storage: SATA SSD 128 GB, HDD 500 GB
OS: Microsoft Windows 10 IOT
Media: Blu-ray or USB 3.0 storage, network delivery (Sega ALL.NET)
I missed the days when arcades used hardware so esoteric it could not be put together by a consumer.

The Model 3 used graphics hardware by Lockheed Martin, a company that makes space craft and jet fighters. It was way beyond the capabilities of anything you could buy from the shop.
 
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FranXico

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I was a Nintendo guy until 93. When I was in the 8th grade, my cousin brought over his Genesis 2 with Sonic 2 bundled in. As soon as I played it, I picked one up as soon as I could. This means I have no nostalgia for the Master System, but I still have all of my SEGA systems from Genesis onward. My cousin passed away a couple of years ago from cancer, but when he was sick, I brought my entire Genesis/SEGA CD/32X collection over (184 titles) and we spent the weekend ordering pizza and playing like we were kids. Whenever a SEGA AGES game comes out on Switch, and it was one we played together on his original system, I think about him and that time we would spend together before life stepped in.
Games used to be all about friendship back then.
 

v1oz

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Sega has nothing to do with Shenmue 3, except lending the license. If Sega was involved it would without a doubt be a much better game.
There’s no guarantee of that. Sega have been hit or miss over the past decade and have released a lot of stinkers.
 

FranXico

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lol sonic mania is just an admission of failure

couldn't make a decent sonic game fit for the modern world so they remixed sonic 2
It was an officially supported fan project. And it was a remix of Sonic 3 (& Knuckles), not 2. A fan would know, of course.
 
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BlackTron

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Ehhh...I dunno about that. Sega went from making games in-house that allowed them to compete with a juggernaut like SNES, to getting points now for letting a fan make a new Sonic game, buying up studios better than they are, and remaking/remastering old games correctly.

Saying this as someone who waited in line at midnight launch to get a Dreamcast which ended up my favorite system ever. I was a huge Sega fanboy. They're "pointed in a better direction" now but better than what? The bar was already horribly low.

Imagine if Nintendo wasn't able to come up with a good Mario game for a decade and then got praise for letting a fan do an HD remix of Mario World/3.

They deserve a gold star on the teachers wall for that one, maybe when they finish school and grow up they can make their own game.
 
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v1oz

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Sega never made quirky games until the Dreamcast, which was a quirky console with a strange controller and trippy games. In the Mega Drive/Genesis era, Sega was all about being cool not quirky. That’s why you had games like Kid Chameleon, Streets of Rage and Golden Axe. Sonic was designed ground up as the antithesis of Mario, that’s why he had lots of attitude and always made cool poses. In the modern era they have kinda retconned Sonic’s personality to make him weird. The Mega Drive itself was styled after high end hifi systems to look cool.
 
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Saberyoko

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All thanks to Atlus and Yakuza. Sonic is weird though, while Mania did a great service to society by bringing Sonic to the glory days(thanks to Taxman and his team), Sonic Forces did not and its considered a trash.

I'm quite happy for them, but at same time wish they would reconsider damping Sonic Team in favor of a new bunch of developers. For the sake of Sonic 3D games.
 
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GermanZepp

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I want a nextgen crazy taxi remasted/remake collection. Maybe they could include a vr mode.
 

~Fake

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Sonic Mania give me hope, because Sonic Forces is a shit. Ignoring all recent Sonic games, yeah, Yakuza, Monkey Ball, I guess part of the Sega is learning the lesson.
 
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Trimesh

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All thanks to Atlus and Yakuza. Sonic is weird though, while Mania did a great service to society by bringing Sonic to the glory days(thanks to Taxman and his team), Sonic Forces did not and its considered a trash.

I'm quite happy for them, but at same time wish they would reconsider damping Sonic Team in favor of a new bunch of developers. For the sake of Sonic 3D games.
What, like DIMPS? They already tried that, and the results were ... not good.
 
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It was an officially supported fan project. And it was a remix of Sonic 3 (& Knuckles), not 2. A fan would know, of course.
ok... guess i imagined playng chemical plant zone lolol. whether it was 2 or 3 makes no difference in any event... point stands
 

nkarafo

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Perhaps strongest arcade board ever released

ALLS UX specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7 7th Gen CPU
RAM: 16 GB
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
Sound: 5.1 channel HD Audio
Output: VGC-P, UTT-P, twin display output
Connectors: JVS I/O connector, 4 channel serial port, 4× USB 3.0, 2× CAN bus
Networking: Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T) X2
Storage: SATA SSD 128 GB, HDD 500 GB
OS: Microsoft Windows 10 IOT
Media: Blu-ray or USB 3.0 storage, network delivery (Sega ALL.NET)
Consider me unimpressed. That's shit you can easily have at home. It's not even the highest-end gear you could buy in 2018.

Remember the Model 1 in 1992? the Model 2 in 1993? the Model 3 in 1996? Now that's some high end stuff you couldn't come close at home except buying these boards themselves for a ridiculous amount of money.

Ever since companies decided to stop producing state of the art, custom arcade hardware, there was no reason to leave your home for videogames. You already had the state of the art at home.
 
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Turkey Master Baster

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People are legit sleeping on games they have made in recent years if you assume that Persona, Yakuza and Sonic Mania are the only great games they have made over the last few years.

7th Dragon 3 is a legit RPG that takes elements from Phantasy Star as well as a varied Class system from Final Fantasy 3, and has a lot of cool moments with NPCs.

Stella Glow was published by SEGA for imageepoch (Luminous Arc) that is a TRPG with the twist of using Songs to buff your characters up.

Their contract with Platinum Games before they became well known gave us Bayonetta, Madworld and Infinite Space

Don't forget that they also made Rhythm Thief, Sands of Destruction and Binary Domain.

They have improved in getting their games out there but when people say they were never quirky until X Gen or only make a few great games I have to call the BS on it as it means they didn't look hard enough.

Even the Mega Drive had Pulseman and Surging Aura it is just that SEGA of America never had faith in SEGA of Japan's offerings.
 

belteshazzar

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A well written post like this one is rare! I agree, hope sega can continue to put out some amazing things while not forgetting about what made them special in the first place.
 

Trimesh

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Consider me unimpressed. That's shit you can easily have at home. It's not even the highest-end gear you could buy in 2018.

Remember the Model 1 in 1992? the Model 2 in 1993? the Model 3 in 1996? Now that's some high end stuff you couldn't come close at home except buying these boards themselves for a ridiculous amount of money.

Ever since companies decided to stop producing state of the art, custom arcade hardware, there was no reason to leave your home for videogames. You already had the state of the art at home.
Some time ago, I was talking to one of the Ex GE Aerospace guys that worked at Real3D - apparently they built some prototype PC 3D accelerator cards based on the same chips as the Model 3, but ended up abandoning the project based largely on cost considerations - it was an expensive chipset anyway, and just using it as a simple rendering accelerator (which was the initial plan) run into the bandwidth limitations of the PCI bus. Adding the necessary hardware to move the geometry processing onto the card would have made it too expensive, even for the professional CAD/CAE type applications they were targeting.
 
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dirthead

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Eh they're really not in a better place than they've been since they blew it. Nothing's changed, really.
 

Saberyoko

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What, like DIMPS? They already tried that, and the results were ... not good.
They tried also with other ones. But so what? Sonic Team keep delivering bad games since long ago. If wasn't for not taking risks we wouldn't have Sonic Mania. Instead we would have another piece of crap like Sonic 4.

So yeah. Would be better for them take risks with another developers than take risks with Sonic Team.
 

cireza

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There’s no guarantee of that. Sega have been hit or miss over the past decade and have released a lot of stinkers.
Sega has undergone a restructuring and everything that they have been releasing since has been of the highest quality. You might not like the games, but they are well polished, they are translated in the main European languages etc...

There has been a huge focus on quality, and it is very easy to see this (when you actually play the games). I am not going to make a list, this is stupid. But it would be great to stop saying that they have been making shitty games as this is not true anymore for quite some time now.
 
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Outrunner

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Sonic Forces is also fine, also aimed towards this younger audience. Even if the game is easy and pretty short, it is still very enjoyable. And it is also a well polished game, that runs perfectly fine. They should not stick to this formula though, we had enough games based on the "boost in corridors" engine, they need to shake things up a bit.
Finally someone who actually played the game and didn't just jump on the hate train.
 

RAIDEN1

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I recently purchased the Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection for the 360, yet to play anything on there yet...though strangely it seems to have a better collection of games ...than the recent collection on PS4 and Xbox One...i.e Sonic 3, and Ecco...I've never owned a Sega console, but I still have a high level of interest in what they did in the 90's be it in the arcade scene....working with Lockheed Martin...the screw ups that were the 32x and Saturn which effectively was the beginning of the end for them in the hardware scene...otherwise it would be great to see them back with a new console, with new iterations of Outrun, Hang On, Shinobi...Ecco...
 

Soltype

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Sega will never have that kind of freedom again.They had decent money coming from 2 sources, so they could afford to be eccentric.They just don't have that comfortability anymore.
 

Outrunner

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For the sake of this discussion I decided to compare Sega's sore on Metacritic with Nintendo's. Because you know Nintendo games are usually seen as quality titles with attention to detail and very well made while Sega is seen as being the complete opposite? Surprise, their average score isn't that different. Even though the Good to Mixed ratio is better on Nintendo's side.
 
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May 7, 2019
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Shin Sakura Wars is made by Sonic Team devs, therefore do we resent the game?

Besides Sakura wars, space channel 5 vr, PSO2 (which took 7 years to release) and Panzer Dragoon remake (however it's a remake of short game so there's a red flag) nothing else Sega is making appeals to me at the moment, Daytona 3 looked underwhelming, am2 is working on a Hatsune Miku game rather than a actual virtual fighter (and you guys want to say Sonic team is the only dev that has problems) no new shining games, Yakuza is going under fatigue with a crappy looking new protagonist, Sonic has too many problems to pinpoint (mania didn't do anything for me, sorry) no 3d puyo pop game, underwhelming ports. And still no vf6 even after verendus hinted at it.